Background: Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is an extremely aggressive cancer that is usually fatal. Although globally morbidity and mortality are increasing, knowledge of the disease remains limited. The Mekong region of Southeast Asia, and particularly the northeast of Thailand, has by far the highest incidence of CCA worldwide with 135.4 per 100,000 among males and 43.0 per 100,000 among females being reported in Khon Kaen Province. Most patients are first seen during late stage disease with 5-year survival being less than 10 %. Starting in 1984, control and prevention strategies have been focused on health education. Although early detection can substantially increase 5-year survival, there are currently no strategies to increase early diagnosis.
Methods/design: The Cholangiocarcinoma Screening and Care Program (CASCAP) is a prospective cohort study comprising two cohorts- the screening and the patient cohorts. For the screening cohort, ultrasound examination will be carried out regularly at least annually to determine whether there is current bile duct and/or liver pathology so that the optimal screening program for early diagnosis c ... mehran be established. This cohort is expected to include at least 150,000 individuals coming from high-risk areas for CCA. For the patient cohort, it is estimated that about 25,000 CCA patients will be included during the 5-year recruitment period. All CCA patients will be treated according to routine clinical care and followed so that effective surgical treatment can be formulated. This cohort is indeed a conventional cancer registry. Thus, CASCAP is an ongoing project in which the number of participants changes dynamically.
Discussions: This is the first project on CCA that involves screening the at risk population at the community level. At the time of preparing this report, a total of 85,927 individuals have been enrolled in the screening cohort, 55.0 % of whom have already undergone ultrasound screening, and 2661 CCA cases have been enrolled in the patient cohort. Among the participants of the screening, whose mean age was 53.8 ± 9.8 years, 55.6 % were female, 77.5 % attained primary school as the highest level of education, 79.9 % were farmers, 29.9 %, reported having relatives with CCA, 89.1 % had eaten uncooked fish, and 42.2 % of those who had been tested for liver fluke were found to be infected.